In my last blog post, I took you on a tour of the famous port wine capital, Porto. You can read that blog post here. Porto is such a cool city and there is plenty to do there, but we found we had seen the main sites at a good pace in 3 days and we had 5 days in the city.
We decided to spread our wings and take in a few more sights in the region. We had heard about Braga whilst in Porto as we managed to visit at the same time as Roman event going on there, and thought that sounded like fun. I had also heard of Aveiro as the ‘Portugese Venice’ full of canals and colourful boats. So we tried to navigate public transport and visit these places to see what was there. And we were really glad we did!
Braga lies around an hour north of Porto by public train. We started off exploring Braga town itself and found ourselves caught up in the aforementioned Roman event marking the town’s Roman origins. So if your day trip requirement list is the same as mine and includes a hog roast lunch, men in togas serving you wine and wreathed dancing men banging tambourines, then you’ll be pleased to know all requirements are met!
To add even more excitement, we then took a taxi from Braga station out to the sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte (Good Jesus of the Mount). This is a sanctuary set just outside of the town, with an amazing set of stairs in a stunning setting. It really is worth a visit and added some culture to our otherwise totally indulgent day!
Aveiro is a coastal town in the west of Portugal, lying to the south of Porto. Again, you can reach the town by train within an hour. The town’s economy has traditionally derived from seaweed picking in traditional Moliceiro boats and salt production. The area is know for codfish, canned fish, eels and bivalves. Yum, I hear you say.
The town is built around a network of canals, and nowadays most of the Moliceiro boats are used for transporting tourists around the canal network but they still smell of seaweed. Not quite as fancy as Venice, but much more authentic and much less expensive!
Seaweed is still important to the local economy. The macro-algae are used as a source of vitamins, iodine and minerals and in various local health and beauty products as well as for soil fertility to boost agricultural productivity. Other local delicacies are shell like biscuit wafers and a sponge cake, both said to have been invented by nuns in the convents which used to be in Aveiro. Who said a day trip couldn’t be fascinating?!
Thanks for reading! I hope this post has been interesting and helpful in planning a visit to Portugal, or given the current coronavirus situation – just taken you away for a few minutes to somewhere new from your armchair. Stay safe and happy travelling everyone.